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Son denied 'legal birthright'
By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-25 05:50

NANJING: The widowed mother of a boy born through artificial insemination is to challenge her late husband's will after he left his entire legacy to her mother-in-law.

Wen Ling, a wealthy businessman, died before the baby was born and left mother and child nothing because the boy is not genetically his.

Wen's wife, Chen Xin, is now planning to take her mother-in-law to court, to get what she claims is her son's birthright.

The case, in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, was reported yesterday by the Xiandai Kuaibao daily.

Wen and Chen got married in 1999, but, because of Wen's infertility, they did not initially have any children.

Eventually the couple opted to use anonymously donated sperm to have a baby. After undergoing treatment at Jiangsu Provincial People's Hospital, Chen became pregnant last June.

In November, Wen was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, and he asked his wife to have an abortion.

Wen did not want his property to go to a child which was not his own, Chen told China Daily yesterday.

"I was already six months pregnant. The hospitals would not give me an abortion because it was too dangerous. By then I was already emotionally attached to the baby anyway," Chen said.

Wen died in March, 20 days before his wife gave birth.

When Chen was allowed home from hospital in May, she found that her mother-in-law had sold the house and the family's cars immediately after Wen's death.

Wen's mother, surnamed Zhang, had taken charge of his entire 1.86 million yuan (US$230,000) legacy.

"I did this just according to the will left by my son," Zhang told Xiandai Kuaibao daily.

The will, which she showed to Chen, was written by another of Wen's relatives and was signed by two witnesses his mother and younger brother.

"The baby is not my son, therefore he has no right to inherit from me," said the will.

"I give all my property, including the house and two cars, to my mother. My wife Chen Xin and the baby have no share," the will went on.

But, according to Liu Zhengcao, a lawyer who is advising Chen, the boy may have a legitimate claim to the inheritance.

This June, the Ministry of Health issued a statement that children born from artificial insemination enjoy the same legal rights as other children, Liu told China Daily yesterday.

"But if it is clearly stated in Wen's will that the boy has no right to any inheritance, and the will is proved legal, the will should be respected," Liu added.

The legality of the will is a point the lawyer is keen to question.

According to Liu, if the dying Wen did not write the will himself, the witnesses should be at least two people who are not named as heirs.

"The will is probably invalid because Wen's mother, named heir to her son's property, was one of the two witnesses," said Liu.

"Chen should at least get her share which includes half the value of their home and one of the cars."

Liu added that he hoped the law relating to children born using donated sperm could be made clearer.

With 12.5 per cent of couples in China suffering infertility, it is estimated that half-a-million couples in China are considering using donated sperm to conceive, according to experts.

(China Daily 11/25/2005 page3)

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